Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/acp-2016-1119
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
Improved identification of primary biological aerosol particles using single particle mass spectrometry
Maria A. Zawadowicz1, Karl D. Froyd2,3, Daniel M. Murphy2, and Daniel J. Cziczo1,4 1Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2NOAA Chemical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado
3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States
Abstract. Measurements of primary biological aerosol particles, especially at altitudes relevant to cloud formation, are scarce. Single particle mass spectrometry (SPMS) has been used to probe aerosol chemical composition from ground and aircraft for over 20 years. Here we develop a method for identifying bioaerosols using SPMS. We show that identification of bioaerosol using SPMS is complicated because phosphorus-bearing mineral dust and phosphorus-rich combustion by-products such as fly ash produce mass spectra with peaks similar to those typically used as markers for bioaerosol. We have developed a methodology to differentiate and identify bioaerosol using machine learning statistical techniques applied to mass spectra of known particle types. This improved method provides far fewer false positives compared to approaches reported in the literature. The new method was then applied to ambient data collected at Storm Peak Laboratory to show that 0.04–0.3 % of particles in the 200–3000 nm aerodynamic diameter range were identified as bioaerosol.

Citation: Zawadowicz, M. A., Froyd, K. D., Murphy, D. M., and Cziczo, D. J.: Improved identification of primary biological aerosol particles using single particle mass spectrometry, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-1119, in review, 2016.
Maria A. Zawadowicz et al.
Maria A. Zawadowicz et al.
Maria A. Zawadowicz et al.

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Short summary
This paper reports the results of laboratory and field measurements of primary biological aerosol particles using Single Particle Mass Spectrometry (SPMS). Identification of biological particles using SPMS can be challenging, as their mass spectra can present features similar to phosphorus-containing minerals and combustion by-products. Using a large database of laboratory measurements, a criterion for identification of biological particles has been developed.
This paper reports the results of laboratory and field measurements of primary biological...
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